This is a live blog for tonight’s debate between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage, kicking off at 7pm. We’ll be adding in audio from the debate below. This page will automatically update every minute. Comments from James Forsyth and Fraser Nelson
20:05 Fraser: So it’s over – another hour of trading numbers, insults and stretching the truth until the elastic snaps. This reinforces my overall suspicion that these two are as unconvincing as each other. The represent incredible extremes – and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. The EU is neither a Giant Satan with blood on its hands, or a panacea that doesn’t need to be reformed at all. The average voter will have tonight seen clown to the left of the screen, and a joker to the right. They will find themselves stuck in the middle with the Conservatives, who want reform and then propose an in-or-out referendum.
20:00: My initial reaction is that Clegg came far harder at Farage than he did last week but Farage rode the punches quite well
19:57: Farage ends with a real anti-establishment tirade, asking people to join the ‘people’s army’who’ll topple the pro-EU establishment
19.55: Farage right about how the Euro crisis is fostering extremism across Euroope
19:50: Expect Lib Dem base and anti-Ukippers will relish how feisty Clegg is being tonight. But not sure what middle ground voters will make of it
19:50: Clegg speaks about the “anger of the over-57s” nodding to UKIP’s key demographic.
19:47: Farage going on about 80pc of our laws made in Brussels. A rather dishonest point – as Dimbleby says, it’s a con. It mixes up tiny regulation with bigger laws, and Nick Clegg was right to use the phase ‘dangerous con’. He was so kind as to give us an example: 7pc of primary legislation comes from Europe, he says. As he knows, that’s a small fragment. Full Fact has the graph below:-
19:49 Interesting point from Mrs Michael Gove
Britain is full of “unelected bureaucrats”. Jeremy Heywood, for one. #europedebate
— Sarah Vine (@SarahVine) April 2, 2014
19:45 Dimbleby gets worried about Clegg speaking about Scottish referendum and then trips up, calling Farage ‘Nick Farage’
19:40 Lib Dems sending out fundraising texts saying, ‘Is Nigel making you angry? Don’t get mad, get even. Reply NICK to donate £5 and keep Britain IN
1938: Clegg says Farage thinks ‘we can return to the gold standard, get W.G. Grace to open the batting for England again’. You can see the point and his strategy – posing as the future, vs the past. But his pre-rehearsed jokes lose a lot of impact on delivery.
19.35 James: Farage right about subsidies for wind farms benefitting the landowners, they are the modern day versions of out relief for the aristocracy
19:32 James: The more I listen to Clegg in these debates, the more I think he could sign up to nearly all of Cameron’s renegotiation aims. It might not be the post 2015 obstacle people think it will be
19:30 James: It is a sign of how much Ukip have changed politics that Farage is behaving like the incumbent and Clegg the challenger in this debate
1932 (Fraser): Clegg has twice quoted figure saying 90% of jobs over last two years has gone to British people. A wee bit of a stretch – that figure does include immigrants, but those who have successfully applied for British passports. Of the 1.3 million jobs he talks about about half – 713,000 – are accounted for by UK-born workers according to the Labour Force Survey.
19.27 (James): Clegg pitches himself as ‘the man who loves modern Britain’. Lib Dem strategists believe that this fires up their base and appeals to soft Tories
1926 (Fraser) Clegg now turns this into a clash of values, of wordviews. “Nigel Farage says he doesn’t like modern Britain. I like the diversity, compassion of modern Britain” not “some 19th century bygone age that just doesn’t exist anymore.”
19.25 (Fraser): Farage has a point when he says that mass immigration is “good for the rich – cheaper chauffeurs and gardeners”. While I’m in favour of immigration, its benefits tend to be felt by employers of immigrats and the problems by those who compete with immigrants for jobs, housing, school places, etc.
19.22: Farage thrown onto the back foot as Clegg brandishes a Ukip leaflet suggesting that Brits could end up like Red Indians if immigration isn’t stopped
19.20: Striking how Clegg keeps trying to claim credit for the coalition toughening up the benefits rules for EU migrants, suggests Tories could get coalition agreement to go further
19.18 (Fraser): Clegg teases Farage for being a conspiracy theorist, saying he’ll next be claiming that Elvis is still alive and Obama is not American. He should be careful – about 8% think that Elvis is still alive. About the same as the percentage of people who supports the Liberal Democrats. About 17 per cent of Americans think Obama is a Muslim. Clegg would kill for those kind of ratings.
19.17: This debate already far more feisty than last week’s and there’s still 45 minutes to go
19.15: Haven’t seen Clegg this passionate in a while, he is far more engaged than he was at the start of the debate last week when he let Farage make the running
19.10 The debate turns to the Ukraine and Clegg accuses Farage of being the leader of Putin. Farage squirming over his comments about ‘admiring Putin’ but he tries to turn the table by presenting himself as the anti-war leader
19:05 Clegg begins by warning that if you think what Farage is offering is too good to be true, because it is.
Farage starts with a joke at Dimbleby’s expense and warns that it is only politics and big business trying to keep us in
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